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||You are on Week 517
Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...
We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!
Story Five Hundred Seventeen Ends Friday, July 29
Valerie was not the adventurous type.
This isn’t to say that she didn't like hearing about the adventures of others. She devoured any book about daring or heroism that came her way and often daydreamed that she was the main characters of such stories. She purposely sought out friends who were risk takers and would listen in complete awe to their tales. Her love of adventure didn't spill out into her own daily life, however. She was overly cautious and would rather run than to face danger. She held this secret deep down within the recesses of her heart - afraid as to how her friends might react. Instead, she simply soaked in their stories as she tried to hide the fact that her own life had been boring by comparison.
Unfortunately, her friends kept prompting her to share her own dashing tales. For a long time, she would simply smile and encourage one of the others to share instead. That was until that fateful day when her friends refused to allow her to simply be a bystander in story sharing. She had tried to smile, but she could feel the tears rising up into her eyes. Soon, they would all know the truth. The young Peophin opened her mouth. Her mind was ready to confess, but it seemed her heart wasn't so compliant.
The tale that spilled forth was a compilation of stories she had read, sprinkled liberally with her own imagination. While she lacked the will to be adventurous, she was rather talented as a storyteller. Her friends leaned forward, hanging eagerly on every word. Never before had she seen them so enthralled as she finally finished her story. They all congratulated her and said that she truly was the most heroic of them all. As she went home that night, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride since she knew she had truly gained their appreciation. Yet, she couldn't escape the simple fact that she had lied, and eventually the lie would no doubt catch up to her. She vowed that she would never again tell such a piece of fiction to her friends.
The vow didn't last long. Only a short time passed before her friends once again were encouraging her to tell another story. She wanted to confess them the truth, she really did, but she found herself instead telling another tall tale. The results were the same, except now her heart felt even heavier. It was as if each lie only weighed down her spirits more. Every morning, she said to herself that this would be the day that she came clean, but that day would pass and her secret would remain hers and hers alone. Something would have to change the cycle.
One day, she was swimming deep into the crystal blue waters around Mystery Island to clear her mind. She was a good swimmer, perhaps no better then any other Peophin, but still it was something she was good at and enjoyed. Usually, the bubbling, silky water was the perfect thing to cleanse her mind, but she was just too distracted. All through the night she had considered her problem, when she had finally came up with a solution - she would have to simply find her own adventure. While it might lack the finesse of one of her stories, she would finally have something of truth to tell to her friends. Of course, simply finding an adventure might prove difficult, but Valerie was determined to give it her best try.
Just then, something twinkling brightly caught her eye. Curious, she swam deeper to investigate, but at first saw nothing out of the ordinary. Just as she was about to discredit it as simply her imagination, she saw the same bright flash of light coming from a spot just a few feet to her left. She hurried over and found it was an area of the ocean floor covered in seaweed and underwater plants. Pushing aside the plants, she was surprised to find a small opening in the ground. Inky blackness prevented her from seeing very far into the opening, but it looked like it could accommodate her size with ease. Perhaps this was her adventure just waiting for her.
While she was mulling this over, she heard a voice coming from the opening - a voice that was both familiar and foreign at the same time. "Valerie," it called, "Valerie..."
Date: Jul 25th
Entranced, Valerie swam forward. The ocean seemed to part before her, as if it had been waiting for her to do this all along.
"Valerie," the voice whispered, further away this time.
She swam all the way in, wondering how the voice could sound foreign and yet familiar at the same time. Inky darkness enveloped the Peophin, and she became lost in it.
Valerie began to panic. Whipping her head in all directions, unable to tell which way she had originally come, The Peophin found no opening shining with the sun's light. She knew that she had wanted an adventure, just not a dangerous one!
"Valerie... where have you gone, Valerie?" the voice called once more, nary even a whisper.
The question just confused the Peophin even more, but, having no other option, she swam slowly in the direction of the voice that had beckoned her here. After what felt like an eternity, she finally saw...
Date: Jul 25th
...an old wooden door, complete with a golden knocker in the shape of an Eyrie's head and a rusty plaque reading "Captain's Quarters."
The dark underwater tunnel had led her straight into the remains of a sunken ship!
What should I do now? Valerie wondered to herself as she gazed intently into the lifeless eyes of the Eyrie knocker. It was with a sudden start that she realized what made this situation feel so familiar.
Had she not told her friends mere days before of a daring swim into the darkness, of a treasure she'd found sunken below the waves - once long lost? It was like a tale she had woven... one of her little "lies" appeared to be unfolding before her very eyes!
"I..." Valerie began, as she reached out to the knocker with a hesitant hoof. "I can't believe I'm doing this..."
She struck the knocker to the rotting wood three times in quick succession. The sound was dull, quietened by the water. It took Valerie a moment to realize what a silly idea knocking had been. This was a sunken ship; would anyone really be around to answer her knock?
With a quick, nervous nudge Valerie pushed the door open. Inky darkness once again swam before her eyes, as she struggled in her mind to remember vaguely what she had "predicted" would happen next...
Date: Jul 26th
The Captain's Quarters were dark and gloomy, and Valerie found herself shuffling through her memories, trying desperately to recall the story she had told her friends. But distressingly, though she could recall the beginning of her story with the utmost of clarity, her mind was empty of the details about what came after she had pushed aside the door to the Captain's Quarters. It was as if she held a book in her hands, and though the words were clearly penned up 'til now, the remaining pages were as yet blank...
And yet, there was something both comforting and thrilling about moving about in the gloom. It was daring – swimming about in a place she'd never been – but also comforting, because she had been here, in a tale she had spun in desperation. It was a bizarre combination, like an intense sense of déjà vu that left her spinning.
"Oh!" she cried out as something banged her forearm with bruising force. Blinking rapidly as she realized she was the only thing moving in the dimness, she finally recognized the source of her injury: an old wooden table, secured to the floor by bolts of some sort to keep it in place. Lost within her own thoughts, she hadn't noticed it until she had swum into it.
Excitement trilled down her spine as she surveyed the old table. "I recognize this!" she said aloud, wonder colouring her voice. She promptly blushed, realizing again that she was speaking to no one, but couldn't help tracing the knot in the old water-logged wood, running her hands along the edge of the table, the split, frayed edges magnified as they swelled with saltwater.
There, in the center, was unmistakably a carving. It took her a moment to recognize it, as it was so distorted with water damage that it was quite difficult to read, particularly in the gloom. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she processed what she was seeing, as much from excitement as nerves.
A map. Difficult to read, yes – distorted, definitely. But still a map, without a doubt.
"And where there are maps…there is treasure," she murmured, her aversion to speaking to no one promptly lost in the excitement of deciphering the map.
Valerie's attention was so fixated upon the map, however, that it took her a very long moment to realize she was not alone...
Date: Jul 26th
It was only the hiss that alerted her to the stranger's presence.
Valerie whipped around and nearly screamed. The voice had come from a Peophin who was only a few feet away, a Peophin with dark green skin and tangles of seaweed matted in her long mane. Her teeth were jagged, her eyes were dark, and she hissed gently, bubbles trickling out of her mouth.
The creature was frightening in and of itself, but what really had Valerie's heart pumping was that she was one hundred percent positive that this Peophin hadn't been in her story. That calming sense of déjà vu had left her. This was an intruder in her story, something that didn't belong.
"W-Who are you?" Valerie whispered, rolling up the map with her hooves--for she recalled quite vividly that she was supposed to take the map and follow its every instruction.
"Valerie..." the Peophin whispered, drawing nearer, "I am an Ocean Muse. I am your Ocean Muse."
"W-What does that even m-mean? I don't understand."
The Peophin smiled with her horrifying teeth, inching nearer. "I heard the stories you told your friends. They intrigued me, so I took your tales and made them into this." She gestured around her, at the sunken ship, at the map in Valerie's hand. "You wanted an adventure, so I gave you one."
Valerie didn't like the way the Ocean Muse looked at her, the way her eyes twinkled darkly and her mouth twisted into a smirk. "So... I can just go on my adventure, then. Right? The way I wrote it."
"Ehh... not quite," the Ocean Muse said with a smile. "As promising as your tale was, you were lacking something... a villain."
Valerie gulped. She didn't like where this was going. "A villain?"
"Precisely," the Ocean Muse answered, drawing nearer. "You can’t have a tale without a proper villain, my dear! I'm only looking out for the sake of your work. Therefore, I have found the perfect villain for this adventure." Grinning once more, teeth jagged and glinting in the dim ocean light, she declared, "Me..."
Date: Jul 27th
Valerie gasped softly and shrank backward as the Ocean Muse declared her words. Feeling the old, waterlogged wood at her back, Valerie looked around hastily, eyeing the old decrepit exits of the Captain's Quarters before turning back to the frightening Peophin.
"Don't be so scared, Valerie," the Ocean Muse purred at her. "You've always wanted an adventure, or else you wouldn't have spun such tall tales. Now you'll get your chance -- you just have to deal with me as well!"
The Ocean Muse whinnied a watery laugh as Valerie's fearful face turned into a glower.
"If this is my tale, I can thwart you right now and find my treasure. If you had really listened in like you said, you would know that you shouldn't exist, and the happy ending will prevail."
"Oh, my little sweetheart. The world around you is not like that. You may think that you can spin your little faerie tales about butterflies and gumdrops, but I'm here to show you that your tales are nothing but the lies they were derived from," the Ocean Muse chortled, placing her hoof on the wooden map in Valerie's hooves. "It's time to find your treasure, just like your stories foretold. You just have to get through me first."
The Ocean Muse lunged forward toward Valerie, but pulled back, grinning that wicked grin once more. As the Ocean Muse turned, the dark Peophin whacked the map's platform with her tail, causing the old wood to shatter into splitters, leaving Valerie with the prize she still clung to.
"Good luck, my little friend," the Ocean Muse spoke, the darkness of the water enveloping her and causing her image to blur. "Until we meet again..."
The dark water churned wildly, then quickly calmed, the Ocean Muse's form vanishing into the waves. Valerie kept herself against the wall as she pleaded both her heart and her breath to calm.
Once finally settled, though her eyes still darted about the cabin to watch that her new nemesis didn't return too soon, Valerie went about the task of deciphering the new map she was bequeathed. The dark waterways, the familiar rock formations, even a strange patch of green Valerie believed was a small island.
With her jitters finally abated, but the thoughts of the Ocean Muse still in the back of her mind, Valerie burst out of the Captain's Quarter door and into the wide ocean. From the little she could decipher from the map, she finally had a heading. She hoped she could find the treasure and complete her adventure before the Ocean Muse could find her again.
If only she had first realized that the patch of green she so feverishly swam toward was a very particular island...
Date: Jul 27th
Before she knew it, Valerie was practically swimming in algae. Green muck saturated the water around her, and she tried not to shudder as she kept moving.
Her heart was pounding, since she expected that the Ocean Muse would come out of nowhere at any moment. After all, wasn't that what a villain would characteristically do? Either that, or hang back and plot the demise of the hero for a little while, trying to ensure it as much as possible?
After a few minutes more of swimming -- and finally managing to find a small area completely clear of algae -- Valerie deduced that yes, that must be the case. The Ocean Muse had to be figuring something out.
The sense of deja vu was back at least, but that didn't provide Valerie with any ease. This time it felt foreboding, as if something she never expected (even though she had made it up) was about to happen. She floated still in one place for a moment.
She had to find the treasure if there was going to be any end to this. She closed her eyes, trying to remember what she'd seen.
She could remember the paint, slowly washing away in the current, and some green splotches that had been forest. There had also been a red line leading up the little river she had just swam through, which had then taken a turn toward...
Her face grew pale.
Valerie recalled that, ever since she'd been little, she'd heard about the infamous Nuranna Tooth Pass, and her adventuring friends had only served to confirm what she'd been told. Countless ships had tried to make their way through the pass, only to get caught on sharp rocks at the pass' very middle. The wreckage of those failed attempts to navigate the pass only increased the likelihood that the ships coming after them would meet a similar demise.
There were also rumors that the sailors of these ships were still there, haunting the ruins and making sure, in their misery, that anybody who wandered -- or fell -- into their waters would never get out again.
To think, her treasure was in the middle of all this.
Valerie hesitated for a moment before swimming toward where she thought the X must be. She had to figure out a way to get around the muse, as well as the ghosts, then grab the treasure and get home. She wasn't even thinking about adventures anymore. She'd had enough now to last her a lifetime.
Before you could say "Peophins" she was at the part of the pass that everybody feared. Despite knowing everything she'd been told, and despite steeling herself up and fighting the urge to flee, Valerie's jaw dropped.
Something had changed. Nuranna Tooth Pass wasn't actually how anybody had described it...
Date: Jul 28th
Diving below the water's surface to look out for any sharp rocks or shipwreck debris that she might encounter, Valerie instead saw a massive maractite castle looming before her. She was nowhere near Maraqua proper -- and yet, there it was, a glorious cluster of three towers. Each tower jutted way up high into the waters -- all made entirely from maractite.
A light of hope lit inside of Valerie. After all, she would no longer have to face the wreckage of sunken ships, and perhaps even evade the wrath of ghosts. This trio of towers, shining in the faint sunbeams that reached that part of ocean, was where her destination was.
Or was it?
If she didn't remember it from her tale, then that meant the Ocean Muse could be putting a spin on things. Valerie guessed that this was still the place where she would find the treasure, but who knew what kind of traps the Ocean Muse had set for her there. This might even be worse than navigating shipwrecks the Peophin told herself.
The shortest tower, which was half the size of the tallest, was still so large that it was impossible to estimate its actual height. What if Valerie ended up having to search all three? As if that weren't enough of a challenge, while searching she would somehow have to find a way of avoiding the Ocean Muse, too...
Great, Valerie thought. Even worse than I could have imagined...
Date: Jul 28th
She took a deep breath. Valerie looked around, hoping to put off the arduous task for even a little bit, but eventually came to accept the fact that sooner or later, she would have to start her search. The Peophin swam toward the maractite towers, wondering if she should search the largest one or the smallest one first, and compromised by swimming for the one in between.
Better sooner than later, she thought as she made her way through the towers. Thankfully they were empty, which made her job a lot easier, but the sheer size of the castle was an obvious setback -- searching all three towers would take hours, at least...
The first tower proved to be empty. There had been no shortage of seaweed, random rocks, and seashells, but no treasure. Despite that, Valerie refused to let it discourage her, and so she made her way over to the largest tower, deciding that she would save the easiest for last.
She searched through the largest tower next, which did take her a while. Hours, definitely. She wasn't sure of the exact number -- Valerie had never been good at keeping track of the time -- but it had definitely been hours. She emerged from the tower empty-handed, same as before, but with a new enthusiasm. The treasure had to be there, in the smallest tower.
With a cry of joy, Valerie found that it was.
A treasure chest, just as she had always read about. Made of wood, rimmed with gold. There was even a lock, just like all those treasure chests in the books. Valerie put a hand to the chest and tried to open it, but it was locked, refusing to budge. A quick look around the otherwise empty tower told her that the key wasn't there, meaning that she would have to go and find it.
But where? That was the question.
She knew the answer even as she asked the question: the island. The island, the little patch of green marked on the map. It had to be there. All she had to do was make it to the island, snatch the key, and return home before the Ocean Muse caught her.
Quickly, she swam in the direction of the island.
Before long, it appeared in the distance. At first it was no more than a speck of green, floating on the blue waters, but as she drew nearer, she realized that the island wasn't covered in trees. Instead, it was made entirely of seaweed...
Just before she reached the edge, right when she was a mere foot away, the Ocean Muse appeared...
Date: Jul 29th
The dark Peophin smiled viciously, her shimmering eyes fixed upon Valerie. Slowly, she began clapping her hooves together.
"Brava!" she exclaimed, throwing her head back to laugh menacingly. Isn't that exactly what any good villain would do at this moment in the story?
"Little Valerie, you've made it to the end of your tall tale... or, at least, almost to the end," she continued. "Now you've only one step left before you can go home and honestly brag to all of your friends about your one, true adventure. Unfortunately for you, and as is custom in any traditional adventure story, this last step will be the most challenging."
Valerie remained motionless. During the Muse's speech, she had noticed a small, glittering object hanging about the dark Peophin's neck.
The key, she thought.
Suddenly, Valerie wasn't afraid anymore. Through all of this she had discovered something inside her, a resilience she hadn't known was there before. Come what may, she would fight for this adventure, for this experience, to the very end.
"Nothing about fighting you seems all the challenging to me," she smirked, her voice confident and steady.
"Well, well! Little Valerie has grown feisty!" the Ocean Muse scoffed, utterly delighted by Valerie's new demeanor. "Let's see if your bite matches your bark!"
The Muse plunged forward to attack. Valerie dashed to the side, avoiding the blow. Not skipping a beat, the dark Peophin turned to attack from behind. This time she slammed right into Valerie, knocking the wind out of her.
Valerie turned to face her antagonist. The Muse had her pinned to the island's floor and was gnashing her rotten teeth in Valerie's face. For a brief moment, the Peophin thought she was about to meet her demise. Inspiration suddenly hit her, though. She reached up to the Muse's necklace and pulled it with all her might. The chain broke; Valerie now held the key.
The Muse looked shocked. She opened her mouth to speak, but only a soft, rasping sound escaped. Slowly, her face, neck, body, tail, all turned to seaweed, which dried and crumpled. Taking a deep breath, Valerie pulled herself off of the ground.
In somewhat of a daze, she stumbled back to where she'd left the treasure chest. Heart pounding furiously, she stuck the key into the lock. As she turned it, the key, along with the chest, turned to sand. Just as her villain had crumpled into nonexistence, so did her prize.
"Because it was one of my adventures," she whispered softly to herself, tears welling up in her eyes. "A lie."
As the chest crumbled, she noticed a small, white edge sticking out from the sand. Clearing the sand away, she saw that it was a blank notebook. Along the top of it was written Valerie's adventure log.
A smile began to spread across her face, and she reached up to dry her tears. The Peophin realized that all of this had not been for nothing, after all.
She now knew that she had the courage to stop lying and actually start living.
Date: Jul 29th
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